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While we're thinking about the conference in Mexico City, can you please give CBOL your advice on how to structure the next one?

- What did you like and dislike about the way the Mexico City meeting was organized?
- Should we have more or fewer parallel technical sessions?
- Should we add a fourth day, maybe with a half-day off in the middle?
- Where should we hold the nex conference?

Any and all advice is welcome!!


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Overall, I thought that the meeting was well-organized and a very positive experience.
The conference venues were lovely, however, I think the additional time in the bus traveling to/from them became a bit wearing (vs. conferences in hotels). Time off in the middle of the conference would have been nice for sight-seeing or other informal networking, but I think, minimally, a bit more time built into the schedule to "collect thoughts" in one's room would have been helpful (e.g. an hour or so before dinner).
The meeting was great and our hosts could not have been nicer. Thanks to everyone! I agree that in an ideal setting, people can walk from their rooms to the conference center. This is not only better for participants; the need for buses adds to costs and can complicate logistics enormously for the organizers (as I am sure you know only too well).

The mix of plenary and technical sessions seemed fine to me. Room size is always a very tricky thing to deal with for parallel sessions. As for length, you found a good compromise with the pre-conference workshops. Some spent most of the week, whereas others (like me) could just come for a concentrated 2-3 days. That offered a nice choice and probably maximized participation.

An afternoon in the middle can be useful for more free-form side-events and networking (possibly a field trip option). But less time in a bus would also have added more potential for informal downtime.

In terms of next venue, we've had UK, Taiwan, Mexico. Geopolitically speaking for a global initiative, I guess that might indicate somewhere in the southern hemisphere. South Africa, Argentina/Chile, NZ/Australia? (I hesitate to suggest Tahiti!)

Some talked about an entirely online conference. It would be great to have the presentations in real-time on the web for those who can't make it, but I don't think that will replace getting together in person. I also don't think presenters should be virtual (virtual viewers/questions are fine). One problem with online conferences is that you are still in your office and that can make it harder to give the conference your full attention. (This is also true when the conference is at your home institution). Online is better for smaller groups for short sessions.

Well that's my two francs worth...
Tahiti! Great idea! Moorea biocode showcase, etc. etc.
Several people told me that they appreciated the fact that the Conference fee was not very high, compared to other meetings, especially considering everything that was included. I think the hotels are a good option for bigger meetings but they come with a big charge that the meeting organizers have to weight, balance, or somehow compensate. Although I would have like to attend to more talks having the chance to see them in the web page later is a nice complement.
The conference was terrific, but I agree with Cara that more convenient access to the hotel would have been nice so that one could take an hour during the day for a bit of "down time".

In the future, I'd like to see fewer parallel sessions. I heard several complaints from people who wished they could attend two different sessions that were occurring at the same time. Although it's excellent experience for students and postdocs, perhaps fewer talks but a larger poster session (coinciding with an evening reception?) would work well.
Oops! Forgot to throw in my $0.02 about the location for the next conference. My vote would be somewhere in Africa. Both Kenya and South Africa have been doing excellent work and holding the meeting in one of these two countries could stimulate interest in neighbouring regions.
Some ideas on where we might have the next conference: Kyoto, Christchurch, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Vancouver. These are all places I'd love to visit, it's true, but they are also in places that either seem active in DNA barcoding or have some link to DNA barcoding applications (e.g. Kyoto & fisheries, New Zealand and invasives, etc.)

...and two possible locations that would pretty dramatically decrease the conference's carbon footprint:
Washington DC
...and to answer your first three questions...

I agree with Cara and Neil that while the hotels and venues were lovely, the distance between them was a problem. In addition to their points about the bus rides being 'wearing', costly (to both the organizers' pocketbooks and the climate) and logistically difficult, I would add that the distance also made it difficult for people to tailor their participation, e.g. by arriving late or leaving early in the day. At intense conferences, it's always nice to know that you can easily pop up to your room if you forgot your charger, aren't feeling well, etc.

The mix of plenary and parallel sessions was okay, but perhaps one extra day and one fewer parallel session each day might have been better. I know this largely depends on the number and size of additional rooms available, though. A half-day break in the middle is a nice idea.

Definitely continue with archiving recorded copies of the talks online. The next step would be live-streaming, with comments/questions via an associated live chat window. A good website that does this is ustream (though by 2011 some newfangled thing will have come along).

Lastly, it would be great to include some kind of public/educaitonal event during the conference to get local people and schools involved. It could be maybe a couple of talks and a demonstration, and maybe even a chance for each attendee to barcode something from their own garden/dinner plate.
I'd like to add my voice to thank the organizers of the meeting -- I'm sure this was not easy to do. Having done a little conference organizing I know how much work it is (a hell of a lot!!) and also that attendees tend to focus on the little glitches (rather than on everything that went well). I loved the settings, particularly the Mex. Academy of Sciences and its amazing views. And what great banquets!

My 2c for the next conference -- yes, close proximity of hotels to the venue has definite advantages. I'd also like to see a venue at the centre of gravity of where most researchers currently are, to minimize the carbon footprint. That may mean North America -- and if so I think it should be in Canada, not that I'm biased or anything. Guelph ain't the prettiest setting, but Toronto would be great and very central. DC would be good too.

I'd also avoid venues that have seminar rooms with those temporary walls (sound travels too easily). I'd prefer to keep the conference on the shorter side -- for those of us who teach it's really hard to get away during term for more than a few days. *9 days* this time (including travel and workshops) was really pushing it for me -- I think there would have been even more attendees with a more compact schedule.
I agree with the comments that the conference organizers did a wonderful job. Certainly that was some of the best food I have eaten at any conference, and the cost of registration was very affordable. Thank you to all who contributed to the task of organizing and managing the conference and social events. It was a great success on many levels.

Is there a process in place for identifying a location/host for the next conference? Just as important as selecting a preferred location, is identifying someone to act as local host. Are steps being taken in this regard?
Pre conference session was great! Think about spacious rooms for parallel sessions.

4 th day is not necessary, we can exchange more, if stay and venue are the same!

Kerala part of of india would be a nice choice for the next meeting!!!

I agree with Cara -- the venues were beautiful and our hosts extremely gracious, but the traveling time from the hotel did cause logistic problems (especially given Mexico City traffic!) The general affordability of the conference was also a big plus, but many of the future venues that are being suggested are more expensive destinations than Mexico, so having sessions in the conference hotel could keep costs down as well as giving people the options to meet informally, or even to just take a short break when needed.

Regarding parallel sessions: They're unavoidable (and, in fact, desirable) at a large conference with multiple interest groups, but there were a few cases in which two sessions that would interest many of the same people were scheduled at the same time. Example: The Bee-BOL session ran at the same time as the Terrestrial Arthropods session. I'm sure I'm not the only antenna-head who would have enjoyed attending both!



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